We’ve sampled a few of the rarer offerings from Virginia’s Filibuster Distillery in recent years, and today we’re looking at a pair of extremely limited-release whiskeys from their Triple Cask line. The more readily available core expressions include a Dual Cask rye and bourbon finished exclusively in French oak, but for the Triple Cask offerings, Filibuster combines its house-distilled whiskey with whiskey sourced from Indiana’s MGP before finishing in a unique cask and bottling at barrel proof.
Filibuster Triple Cask Bourbon Tokaji Finished – If you don’t know Tokaji, well, you’re in for a treat. As far as I can remember, this is the first whiskey I’ve tasted that was finished in Hungary’s famous sweet wine — though it’s certainly not the first ever made. Starting with a blend of two 5 year old bourbons, one of its own and one from MGP, the third casking in the Tokaji wine barrel is only denoted as “lengthy.” That definitely shows: The nose is at once beautiful with notes of oiled wood, stewed fruits, and a thick layer of Eastern spices that evoke Turkish rug shop. A polished sandalwood note starts things off on the palate, immediately followed by a note of bright lemon and honey, almost like an herbal tea that gently coats the throat. A bold maple syrup character builds from there — quite surprisingly — complemented by nutty, toasty elements that ultimately evoke baklava. Pecan and pistachio notes emerge — both candied — the latter nut being a tasting note I can’t ever remember using in a bourbon review before today. This is a sweet whiskey, which should come as no surprise, but any rote sweetness is complemented here by elements of bright red fruit and incense, followed by layers of gentle wood that feel like you’re hanging out on a yacht. The finish evokes more of an almond note — sweetened and spiced, of course — then a final lick of honey that is an unmistakable echo of that Tokaji cask. 112.8 proof. A / $120 -CN
Filibuster Triple Cask Bourbon Moscatel Finished – This is the same mix of 5 year old bourbons, house-distilled and sourced, with a third casking in Moscatel barrels, again described as “lengthy” but reportedly three months (which isn’t that lengthy). Like Tokaji, Moscatel is a dessert wine renowned for its unique sweetness. And also like Tokaji, it has made for an impressive pairing with Filbister’s bourbon blend. The aroma is again redolent with an impressive mix of exotic oak notes. What begins as polished wood and antique furniture transitions to softer sawdust and rosewood as it opens in the glass. A complement of fruit – golden raisin, fig, and a bit of orange oil – add a welcome contrast to the burlier oak notes, eventually coalescing into sweet tobacco, creamy vanilla, and fruit cake. The palate is lush and a bit hot at the outset with warm, winey notes of white grape and plump raisin that become darker and sweeter across the palate. Like the Tokaji, this whiskey is also quite nutty with notes of sugared almonds and roasted walnuts that add a bit of crunch to a finish otherwise dominated by maple, dark vanilla bean, and candied cherry. A splash of water is essential to keep the heat from distracting too much, but after that, it’s a remarkably rich and approachable bourbon with plenty to admire. 113.47 proof. A- / $100 -DB